One from a Billion - Arjun Maini
[ PS: This interview was conducted ages back. But something better than nothing after a 2 month hiatus, right? ]
“Who is the next Formula One driver from India?” is a question people ask me very frequently.
The next formula one driver from India is this guy who has won the Super 6 Championship, who’s driven a Formula BMW race and has won plenty of kart races and a JK Tyre National Karting Championship, Rotax Karting Championship and also holds the title of “One in a Billion” - a karting championship conducted by Sahara Force India F1 team. And with over 80 podiums and 20 career wins (and still counting), I am not the only one who believes Arjun Maini will be the prodigy from India who will secure a drive in Formula One in the coming years.
Already having participated in the BRDC F4 championship 2014 with Lanan Racing, Arjun has earned the title of vice-champion with 480 points, only 3 points behind 2014 F4 Champion George Russell. He is truly the RACER that India is looking for.
Here’s what he had to say when I talked to him!
Who is Arjun Maini, describe yourself
I love driving cars on the edge of their capabilities. Im an angel person off the track and a Devil on the track.
Obviously, you started with karting to be where you are now. However, it's almost seeable that karting is completely different from formula racing. But it has laid a good foundation. How important is karting and how much of a role does it play when you race cars?
Karting is very important as you learn all the racing bit from karts. Its just like in school. You go step by step
Was there any "tough phase" of your life that makes you do better now?
Yes i have had very very tough phases of my life where i stopped enjoying what i was doing. But i never stopped believing in myself and i made a really good comeback and I think all those tough times have made me who I am today.
Who's your biggest inspiration and what do you admire in him/her?
My biggest inspiration currently is Sebastian Vettel. I always admire how he never runs out of determination to do well. He never relaxed even after winning so much he still continued working hard and is always willing to improve his own abilities. He is having a bit of bad luck now but im sure he will be in winning form soon.
Did you feel like a Vettel when you won your first race at Snetterton last weekend? How do you feel now that you're just 3 or 4 steps away from F1?
Feels great. But I know that I cant afford to set back to much I need to stay determined to make it to F1 and consistently perform well on the way there.
What do you think of today's F1? As a racer, who wants to be there someday, do you like the path it's heading?
I love it. As a racing driver you always want to push any car as close as possible to its designed capabilities. You get people saying that it is very easy for F1 cars to be driven now as the computers do everything. Thats not true. The Driver still is still the main data gather. Without the driver the engineers would not know how the car needs to be. Nowadays the driver needs to be doing so much more than just driving and I love those things, to control the balance of the car with your steering wheel. Whatever people might say I really would love to be a Formula 1 drover how ever it may be.
Even with the (pathetic) rule changes the FIA introduced this year?
I don't mind. You see it does not bother me as much as it may bother others. Racing is exiting this year and I cant tell you how much I would've loved to be a part of it this year.
How do you manage school in your schedule? And being as successful as you are now - does that influence the way you are with your pals around you?
I do homeschooling so that i move at my own pace in studies. I am normal when I play with friends and they treat me like normal so yeah.
If you had to give advise to a youngster who aspires to be an F1 driver (or a racer in any top field), what would it be?
You cant depend on Talent. You have to work hard and build up on that Talent to be the best.
How was the transition from karts to cars?
It was very exiting. Obviously the basics are the same its just that cars are bigger have wings so you have aero grip as well and have gears and are more powerful. You use a slightly different technique to drive cars.
Which country were you supporting this world cup?
All the best, Arjun!